The Downfall of Andrew Tate Isn’t Just Deliciously Ironic. It’s Also Vitally Important.
If you’re like many people, the first time you’d ever heard the name Andrew Tate was through reading about climate activist Greta Thunberg’s brutal takedown on Twitter after the former lightweight world kickboxing champion decided rather unwisely to troll her. As it is Schadenfriday, I’ll review the hilariously ironic part of this first before getting into why this actually matters beyond the hellsite of Twitter.
The Tate Twitter Massacre
On Tuesday, Tate, 36, whose Twitter account was suspended in 2017 but had been newly restored to Twitter by his fellow butthurt manbaby Elon Musk, was in the mood to troll an autistic teenage climate activist. You know, just in case anyone had forgotten what a truly horrible person he is. Tate tweeted the following at Greta Thunberg:
I have 33 cars.
My Bugatti has a w16 8.0L quad turbo.
My TWO Ferrari 812 competizione have 6.5L v12s.
This is just the start.
Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions.
For good measure, Tate included a picture of himself refueling one of those vehicles.
Thunberg responded in her characteristically dry yet deadly manner:
yes, please do enlighten me. email me at email@example.com
The internet nearly went supernova, with her retort garnering over 250 million views. Tate was clearly incensed that he was bested by a teenager, but rather than nurse his now seeping wounds, he responded in a ridiculous video of himself smoking a cigar in a bathrobe. But Tate lacks the dexterity and skill online he once possessed in the ring, and his painfully cringey clapback only added to the online ridicule and humiliation. And there was an unexpected twist: For a full two minutes of the video, a pizza box delivered by the local Jerry’s Pizza could be seen in the foreground.
This apparently tipped off local Romanian authorities that Tate was physically present in the country and actually at his residence—something police had hoped to confirm via Tate’s social media posts. They quickly launched a raid that included Tate’s home as part of a larger bust of an organized crime ring. They detained Tate and three others, including his brother, accusing them of operating a sex trafficking operation involving at least six women held in houses around Bucharest.
The internet exploded again over the irony. Memes proliferated showing Thunberg triumphing over a vanquished or deceased Tate. A video clip of Tate’s cars purportedly committing suicide off of buildings spread. Tate’s own kickboxing record on his Wikipedia page was edited to now show a loss to Thunberg.
But the Swedish activist had yet to deliver her final, decapitating quip. On Thursday she tweeted simply,
this is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes
Tate is a major vector for online hate and misogyny
Twitter spat aside, if you’re not on TikTok, or yourself a teenager, you might never have heard of Andrew Tate. But among women’s advocacy groups and online safety experts, Tate is well known and considered highly disruptive and dangerous. This is why what went down online and in Bucharest matters a great deal.
Tate first rose to infamy on the show Big Brother in the U.K. by getting kicked off of it. A British tabloid had published a video of him striking a woman with a belt. Tate claimed the act was consensual, but the producers were adamant in their decision. Tate then turned the incident and his cancelation on the show into a pivot toward a new and very ugly public brand.
Tate describes himself as “absolutely a misogynist” who argues that rape victims must “bear responsibility” for their attacks. He dates 18-19 year old women so he can “make an imprint” on them, and in his online videos he talks about hitting and choking women, trashing their belongings, and preventing them from leaving the house. “It’s bang out the machete, boom her in the face and grip her by the neck. Shut up bitch,” he stated in one video, acting out how he would respond to an allegation of his cheating. In another interview, hosted by Barstool Sports, Tate said of women, “I’m not saying they’re property. I am saying they are given to the man and belong to the man.” These statements earned him the admiration of self-proclaimed MAGA alpha males, one of whom dubbed him the “king of toxic masculinity.”
All this would be bad enough if it also hadn’t made him a worldwide internet sensation. Within a matter of months, Tate amassed millions of followers, largely young men in the U.S. and the U.K. His videos on TikTok have since been viewed some 11.6 billion times. He has appeared on the Alex Jones show, palling around with the likes of Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander and British provocateur Nigel Farage. His podcast has hosted conspiracy peddlers like Mike Cernovich, the promoter of the Pizzagate pedophile conspiracy theory. (In light of this, some have cleverly dubbed the plot twist that got Tate himself arrested for sex trafficking #PizzaTate.)
Understandably, domestic abuse organizations viewed Tate’s messaging with increasing alarm, concerned that they would radicalize men and boys to also commit harm. Teen viewers of TikTok were the most likely to be served similar videos once they viewed one of them, with the algorithm automatically feeding them like-minded content without any filters in place.
Indeed, Tate is extremely savvy when it comes to gaming the recommendation algorithms of major platforms. He advises his followers to flood social media with his videos and choose the most controversial clips to gin up engagement. Those followers include a veritable army of some 160,000 claimed members of his private “Hustler’s University,” who pay more than $40 a month to join his community. These members have made Tate a very wealthy man, further increasing his appeal among his young male acolytes.
Tate’s fortunes take a turn
His manipulation of the algorithms and his hate speech against women and others eventually earned him bans on Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram, and YouTube back in August 2022. Twitter had permanently banned him back in 2017, though he had reportedly snuck back on using aliases.
Tate had moved to Romania, claiming that “40 percent” of his reason was that Romanian police were less likely to investigate and prosecute sexual assault allegations. This probably sat poorly with Romanian authorities, who in April of this year raided his property over reports that an American woman was being held against her will at the Tate residence. They successfully located her and another Romanian woman in the building, but the authorities did not charge him or make arrests at the time.
When Elon Musk bought Twitter in the fall and officially restored Tate’s account, like an evil villain releasing all the prisoners from Gotham jail, it didn’t take long for Tate to punch himself in the face by essentially doxxing himself and his whereabouts in a video. This time, when the police raided the home, they took Tate, his brother, and two others into custody. Authorities have reportedly applied for a 30-day detention hold while the investigation continues.
The Tate brothers stand accused of luring young women to lavish homes using what authorities call the “loverboy” method, in which a relationship is struck over social media before the women are flown to Romania. Police allege they kept women in a studio and forced them to perform pornography. The police found several women in the Tates’ and other conspirators’ homes. The victims had been threatened with violence and undergone mental coercion (intimidation, surveillance, control) to force them into pornography.
Tate’s apprehension by authorities may finally put an end to his online presence and exploitative business empire. More importantly, it could spare more women the horrific fate of those who were recently rescued from Tate’s home. The message to his followers and to the world hopefully will be clear: Tate is no “king of toxic masculinity.” He is an accused rapist and sex trafficker, and he is likely soon to be a convicted criminal serving time in a Romanian prison.